28 May 2019

Drugs, cash, gold seized in major meth bust

From Checkpoint, 5:47 pm on 28 May 2019

Police in Wellington have arrested 35 people and seized more than $1 million in assets as part of a major meth bust in the region.

Two criminal drug syndicates were targeted in the investigation, which took ten months and involved over 100 officers.

Zip lock bags full of methamphetamine and cannabis - along with stacks of cash, firearms and slabs of gold and jewellery - were displayed on a table at Wellington Police station.

Detective Inspector Darrin Thomson said they had been running an investigation since August last year and conducted over 40 search warrants in the past four weeks. 

"We've targeted two syndicates during that time and 35 arrests have been made. This has included one of the gangs locally based here in Porirua, which is the King Cobras,  a number of patched members have been arrested and will be facing serious drug dealing and other charges," he said. 

Up to 10 patched members of the King Cobra gang were part of the 35 arrests, said Detective Inspector Thomson.

The 31 men and 4 women have all appeared before the court facing a culminated 200 charges.

He described the second syndicate involved in the bust as an "organised crime group" - not a gang.  

But, he said, the police were still looking for more people in connection with the seizures and were investigating the origin of the drugs. 

"This is a serious and significant operation, throughout the Wellington district, it's tentacles have got up towards Taupo. Thirty-five arrests sort of indicates the sphere of offending that has been going on. 

"The majority of that offending has been serious drug dealing, money laundering and as you can see significant firearms have been taken off the street, including some MSSAs," said Detective Inspector Thomson.

Detective Senior Sergeant Tim Leitch said firearms, including two banned military style semi-automatic weapons, were taken during the raids. 

The people they were seized from didn't have gun licences, he said. 

The confiscated haul included AR15s, an Uzi pistol, cut down 22 rifles and a revolver and semi-automatic pistol, some of which were loaded when they found them, he said. 

Six children were located at the addressees searched in the operation and they have been referred to Oranga Tamariki. 

Police said the "social cost" of the drugs seized equated to more than $4.3 million.